11 Creative Valentine's Day Gift Ideas
This Valentine's Day, step away from the scented massage oil, overbooked restaurants, lingerie and chocolate clichés (OK, maybe not chocolate, which should be enjoyed year-round) and say "I love you" to nature, friends, family, furry friends, spouses or whoever and whatever lights up your life with this handy list of creative gift ideas.
A Friendship Lamp From Uncommon Goods
$99 and up, uncommongoods.com
Connect with someone special across the street or across the country with two or more of these in-sync lamps. When you touch it, its mate lights up with the same glow, letting them know you’re on their mind. You can also assign each loved one a color so that when they tap their lamp, yours lights up with their special color.
A Picnic With Certified Cupid Custom Dates Local
$235 and up. Book online or call (941) 893-9303
Breaking bread together is always in style. Pack a blanket and a basket with your favorite foods and drinks and head to one of many open, grassy spaces with a view—like Bayfront Park in downtown Sarasota, where you can also see the Embracing Our Differences outdoor gallery right now. The new The Bay park, also downtown, has Adirondack chairs right on a waterfront strip of sandy shore, perfect for sunset seating. Want to go all-out instead? Book a pro and customize your picnic with the experts at Certified Cupid Custom Dates.
Matching Tattoos Local
$100 or more, depending on size and subject. Check out some of our favorite local studios here.
Diamonds, move over: forever has a new name, so instead of putting a ring on it, put some ink on it, or both. (That said, with divorce and separation rates hovering at around 50 percent nationwide, it’s safe to say tattoos almost always last longer than the marriage certificate.)
Dance Lessons Local
$10 to $20; some classes are free for first-timers. Check out some of our favorite local studios here.
Even if you’re no Fred Astaire, you can at least make a memory or two and laugh out loud. Dancing feels good and is downright fun. Most dance halls have casual group lessons perfect for breaking into the sport.
Donate a Banned Book Local
Banned Books at local Bookstore1 cost $7.99 and up. Find a map of Free Little Libraries here. Bookstore1 is located at 117 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, (941) 365-7900
Spread your love of literacy, knowledge and stories by stocking a local Free Little Library with a banned book. This "give a book, take a book for free" practice is one of the pillars of free speech that supports the exchange of idea. In times like these, they're needed more now than ever.
A Custom Suit From Tweeds Local
$250 and up. 1423 First St., Sarasota, (941) 343-7606
The right fit isn't only comfortable, it can also boost confidence. Get dapper with a custom jacket to elevate any outfit, or a complete ensemble for full swagger style. Tweeds also has a portable option that comes straight to you by appointment. The passionate, knowledgeable team advises on fabrics, fashion and fit, and each garment is made from scratch.
Plant Something Local
$7 and up
Show Mother Earth a little love and put down a tree or native plant from Tropiflora in Manatee County, or one of many other local nurseries. From mango and citrus to oaks and palms, there’s no shortage of greenery to choose from. No idea where to start? Check out a list of free classes here. Don’t have a yard? Use a container and choose plants that support honeybees, which play an essential role in maintaining environmental equilibrium.
Jewelry and Other Unique Gifts From NorthStar Local
Pictured here: Gucci graffiti heart, $900; small love script ring, $980; small love script necklace, $1,540; call for pricing on Rubellite Tourmaline ring. 107 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, (941) 350-9992
This newly opened locally-owned shop in The Mark’s breezeway in downtown Sarasota is a go-to for jewelry for both men and women that’s not the same old, same old. Edgy, unique pieces by local artisans span diamonds to turquoise and cufflinks to Tahitian pearls. Don’t care for baubles? Go for a sexy Champagne gift box by Vinglacé for a toast to love.
Keep It Clean Local
The car, the yard, the windows, the house: there's no shortage of labor needed to keep up a shiny life, and acts of service are a great way to show friends and family appreciation. Have a car detailer come to your loved one, or hire a cleaning company to take on their house. Need organizing help? Check out these local pros.
Pet Gifts at WoofGang Bakery & Grooming Local
$10 and up. 1129 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 203-8334
Our four-legged friends bring so much love to our lives, so why not shower them on the day that celebrates it? Check out an array of pet-friendly baked goods, catnip, toys, furniture and more to reward their unconditional cuddles.
Volunteer for Your Favorite Cause Local
Volunteering fuels both causes and the community, but the benefits can be even greater for the volunteer. Spread love and make friends, learn new skills or just feel happy by giving back. With a community rich in philanthropic action, there's no shortage to choose from. Check out opportunities at All Faiths Food Bank, the Sarasota County Humane Society, The Eary Learning Coalition of Sarasota, or the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County.